Isabel Kelly ’23

Sunrise Mountain Partners, Greenwich, CT

This summer I worked as a clean energy fellow for Sunrise Mountain Partners, a solar development startup focusing on community solar. This company was launched this past year by Williams alum Nick Minekime ’02 who had already established themself in clean energy. Along with two other interns, I contributed to several aspects of community solar energy development, including research on community solar state policies and assisting with the site procurement process.

I initially came on board under the assumption that I would be using GIS to make maps and models for the company to benefit from. However, given the timeline of the summer, Sunrise was already working with an external company on GIS-related tasks. Though not shirking my GIS role completely, this caused me to shift and adapt to new roles and responsibilities. In the proper nature of a startup, we all tried to do a little bit of everything to really grasp what makes Sunrise Mountain Partners unique and how we could fulfill our mission while generating profit for the company and also landowners.

I spent a large part of my summer reaching out to landowners. Throughout the country there is a range of opinions about solar energy. Connecting with landowners and ultimately creating pamphlets of frequently asked questions (FAQ) to address their concerns was very rewarding. I enjoyed seeing our work come to fruition by the end of the summer, with the number of leases we were able to obtain and move forward with. We got to know all of the landowners personally, and, as much as they learned from us, I can confidently say we learned a lot from them as well.

I also focused on Excel and Google Earth proficiency. My internship was hybrid, and even when all five team members were located in different states, we would Zoom every day to keep each other accountable. We worked with Excel spreadsheets with thousands of rows, trying to narrow down the site selection to only the few land parcels that met all of our criteria.

Through my work with Sunrise Mountain, I was able to gain real-world experience in a clean energy environment, as well as at a startup. I developed new skills in areas such as data management and analysis, legal contracts and even graphic design and marketing. The experience I gained at this internship has helped me improve my organizational, planning and communication skills more generally as well. I can’t wait to follow up on our projects in the next stages of development.

I want to thank Mr. Jim Marver ’72 and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for making this internship possible. I am truly grateful for my experience at Sunrise Mountain Partners, and I know no matter what path I choose from here, the skills I learned this summer will provide me with a strong foundation wherever I end up. Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity.